Rio Grande City appoints interim city secretary

Melissa Garza is sworn in as the interim city secretary by Municipal Judge Basilio "Bacho" Villarreal on Feb. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Rio Grande City commissioners appointed an interim city secretary last week following the arrest of their city secretary at the end of January.

Melissa Garza was sworn in as the interim secretary during a Feb. 5 city council meeting. She is filling in for City Secretary Lyzette Peña who was arrested on Jan. 24 and subsequently placed on administrative leave.

Peña is charged with unlawful interception, use or disclosure of wire, oral or electronic communications.

Garza previously worked in the city’s planning and zoning department and then under City Manager Alberto “Beto” Perez, according to Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal.

The city commission selected her, Villarreal said, based off recommendations from staff and the city manager.

“So with that, our city commission reviewed her resume as well and we proceeded to hire her based on the positive impact that she’s had at multiple departments there,” Villarreal said. “This position, the office for the secretary for the city, is a position that encompasses a wide array of duties and responsibilities and, in collaboration with other departments, she’s done a tremendous job.”

The mayor noted the many responsibilities that rested on that position including running the city elections, handling information requests, putting together agendas for city meetings, and generally working with all the departments.

“I can’t say enough about what that position entails,” he said.

Villarreal said Garza will continuing serving in an interim role as Peña’s case remains ongoing and as the city continues to consult with their attorney.

“Right now we’re looking at just addressing the immediate needs within the next several months and then from there we’ll decide,” Villarreal said on whether the city would hire someone permanently. “When it comes to that or if it comes to that, of course, we would open it up on a wide scale.”

“There’s still a lot to consider as we’re moving forward with that position,” Villarreal said.